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Woolworths supermarket chain refers to tampon users as 'people who menstruate'

Photo by Helen Orr/Getty Images

Woolworths in Australia is accused of "cancelling women," the Daily Mail reported Wednesday, after offering tampons to "people who menstruate" instead of to women.

What are the details?

According to the report, the store chain was announcing a partnership with nonprofit organization Share the Dignity, a group that provides free tampons in public vending machines.

In a LinkedIn social media post, the store wrote, "The 100th Dignity Vending Machine funded by Woolworths has just been installed to help people who menstruate access period care items free of charge."

"Together with Share the Dignity, we’ve helped more than 56,000 people access these essential products so that regardless of their circumstances, they can be afforded dignity, confidence and mobility during their period," the post continued. "We aim to care for all Australians and are thrilled that the Dignity Vending Machines we've funded will help more people across the country access the products they need."

What was the response?

Dr. Bella A'Brera, author and director of the Foundations of Western Civilisation Program at the Institute of Public Affairs, said, however, that the company's "gender-neutral language undermined biological fact."

"By caving into the extreme views of a vocal minority, Woolworths has decided to cancel women," A'Brera said. "Woolworths needs to remember that it is a supermarket. Its purpose is to sell groceries, not radical gender theory."

She told radio broadcaster Liam Bartlett that "radical gender theory has embedded itself into all our institutions."

“Woolworths refusing to use the word ‘woman,’ they are excluding their entire market because as you and I know, the only people who do menstruate are women,” she told Bartlett.

A spokesperson for the store said that the grocery store chain was not aiming to be political with its Share the Dignity partnership.

"Our partnership with Share the Dignity has helped provide period care products to tens of thousands of women and other people who need them across Australia," the spokesperson said, noting that such products are "available to all women, girls, non-binary, and transgender people" as well as "family members collecting them on someone's behalf."

An opposing viewpoint

In 2021, sexuality education consultant Joanna Anagnostou told Moxie that gendered language when discussing menstruation is damaging to people who identify as transgender and nonbinary.

"It reinforces the false idea that menstruation equals woman," Anagnostou said. "This language implies that some may not be 'real' women if they do not have a period; it implies that trans men and non-binary people are women because they may have periods. It even implies that some cisgender (a person whose sense of personal identity or gender aligns with the biological sex they were assigned at birth) women are not women because they do not experience periods."

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